"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tour de Philadelphia - Rocky Run Part Deux

If you really want to see a city, any city, you got to run through it. Running through city streets allows you to get up close and personal with neighbors, neighborhoods, and architecture. Sadly, not many places offer something like this, but here in Philadelphia, we are blessed. Thanks to a fictional boxer from South Philly, we now have an opportunity to see all the good, but also all the bad that Philadelphia has to offer. Enter Rocky 50k Fat Ass Run.

Who is ready to go? These guys.
I ran Rocky last year as a last race of the season (sorry run of the season) in its inaugural edition. Both Amy and I had a blast and decided to return again this year no matter what. I wrote about this race last year, so please check out that post here if you want more details on the origin and the logistics. Instead of boring you with the same story again, I will tell you a little bit more about Philadelphia that you see through Rocky's eyes.
Rebecca doing what she does best...
The run starts in South Philadelphia in front of Rocky's fictional house. While last year we had a cloudy cold December day. This year we were greeted with a bit warmer cloudy December day with a promise of 100% rain later in the morning. More about the rain later. South Philadelphia is exactly that, south of Center City. It is mainly a residential area with tons of small mom and pop shops, restaurants and business. The run visits South Philadelphia at the start where you get to run by now iconic Pat's and Geno's steaks, and then again third of a way in, where you get to run through the Italian Market with the famed fire barrels.
Straight from South Philadelphia you head through part of Center City and through Kensington, and later through West Kensington. For those unfamiliar with the area, these two places are not where you would find your self running on any normal day. Running in a group during the day is perfectly fine on the other hand. As you run through these neighborhoods where people seem genuinely shocked to see runners especially early in the morning, you will hear comments such as, "You must really love running to be in this neighborhood."  Runners also get to pass through parts of North Philadelphia, home of Temple University.
Oh hi.
Meeting new runners while winding your way through the city is a fun and unique experience. While there are some serious ultrarunners that were running, there were also those who were trying the 50K distance for the very first time. With no pressure of cutoff times, nor finishing accolades, runners do what runners do best, usually talking shop and comparing gear and running stories. This makes the time go by fast and it is one of the many great perks of Rocky 50K. All are welcome! Right before you exit the bad lands of Philadelphia and get to Kelly Drive, runners pass by Laurel Hill Cemetery where fictional Adrian is buried. Second year running, and we are yet to find her grave, but it is there, I promise!

By the time we were making our way down to Kelly Drive for our journey towards the Art Museum, rain started to fall, at first very light, and then very hard. At this point there was about 10 miles to go, and unless you were a pansy, there was no other option than to continue to the end.  Last 10 miles are really the hardest. While you do get to enjoy the wonderful River drive running path while watching rowers pull their heavy oars through fog and cold rain, you also get to see the Art Museum which is the finish line - yet you still have 5 miles to go. Bummer. In the grand scheme of things 5 miles are nothing, but when you combine Christmas time shoppers, traffic lights every 50 feet and torrential rain, it makes for a very interesting journey.
Honor to run with Ms Schaefer. Photo credit: Rocky 50K Facebook Page
None the less, you do get to see even more of historic Philadelphia as you run past the Independence Hall and through the Olde City on your way back to the Ben Franklin Parkway. Making that final turn on to the parkway is a wonderful feeling. You have less than a mile left and you see your finish line, the Art Museum steps. Granted, they were not that visible while we ran due to soaking rain, but they were there. No matter how tired you are, there is always that last bit of energy that will make you surge up those steps to top. There is no medals, music nor loud speakers announcing your arrival, just the happy cheers of your fellow runners that have just completed the same journey before you.
Home stretch. Almost there!
The real reward is not only your finish, but the scene you get as you turn around. Your eyes will see the most glorious ever-growing Philadelphia skyline and right in the middle, always present watchful eyes of William Penn atop of the City Hall. Tired, soaked, cold, yet happy, we made our way back to our car with talk about how much fun we had and how the parking garage was way too far (it was not).
I win.
And what fun we had. Even though, there were at least 100-150 people there, for long periods of time, Amy and I ran by ourselves. Not only did we get to experience Philadelphia, and meet fellow runners, we got to spend tons of times alone, just talking, laughing and having fun.

Big thank you to Ms. Schaefer for once again hosting this wonderful event, that can only get bigger and bigger. If you want to see what Philadelphia is all about, come and run the Rocky 50K.

Few extra photos from me. For even more photos check out the Rocky 50K page on Facebook:
Somewhere on Broad St.

City Hall

Happy all around


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